Conservation film evokes political supportNov 30, 2017
Port Moresby, 29 November 2017 – An inspiring film about conservation and the protection of a rare and unique species of tree kangaroo and its impact on a rural community in West Sepik Province premiered in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on 28 November 2017.
The film‘Into the Jungle’ tells the story of struggle, persistence and commitment of the people in the Torricelli Mountain Range of Lumi in West Sepik Province and Drekikir in East Sepik Province. The film was produced by Titan Films and funded by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Global Environment Facility.
What began as the race to save a special species of tree kangaroo called ‘Tenkile’ turned into transforming the lives of over 12,000 people living in isolated villages on the foothills of the Torricelli Mountain Range. The pursuit of protecting Tenkile was led by a locally-based Non-Government Organisation called Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) headed by zoologists Jim and Jean Thomas.
Since 2011, Jim, Jean and their local project officers have been working with the PNG Government to have the Torricelli Mountain Ranges declared as a legally Protected Area.
The film shows the community’s commitment in taking ownership in leading the protection of the Tenkile and sustainably managing their natural resources while at the same time focusing on interventions that will enable improvements in their living standards.
Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said: “UNDP continues to support efforts on biodiversity conservation which promote the rights of customary landowners and communities as stipulated in the Protected Area Policy and the Protected Area Bill which will hopefully be enacted in 2018.”
“For conservation work to be genuinely sustainable, communities need to see and feel that their lives are improving through social and economic development. By seeing practical improvements in their lives, communities can stay strongly committed to conserving their lands and seas and protecting biodiversity,” added Mr Trivedy.
Mr Trivedy stressed that this requires collaboration by all partners to overcome capacity barriers and enable timely service delivery and provision of sustainable livelihood opportunities in the provinces. “From my four years of experience in PNG, keeping communities engaged and interested in biodiversity conservation remains a challenge,” stressed Mr Trivedy.
Opposition Leader and Member for Aitape Lumi, Honourable Patrick Pruaitch who attended the private screening of the film said it is a challenge to make sure that there is food available daily for families while also preserving the environment for future generations.
“You have to make sure that there is protein on the table, otherwise it is so easy to go out and kill another Tenkile,” said Mr Pruaitch.
Mr Pruaitch added: “I want to assure Jim and Jean that I am willing to participate in the process to ensure that we are able to get the necessary Government approval to have the Torricelli Mountain Ranges declared as a legally Protected Area.”
Minister for National Planning and Member for Yangoru Saussia, Honourable Richard Maru also present at the screening threw his support behind the plan for the Torricelli Mountain Ranges to become a gazzetted protected area.
“Our Government is focused on preserving the environment, our flora and fauna, and we are going to provide more funding in next year’s budget to identify more areas to be conserved,” Minister Maru said.
Mr Maru added that “our people are willing to conserve the environment if they are given more sustainable livelihood alternatives.”
Minister Maru said this was an exciting journey and the Government is looking forward to supporting more projects like this in the country.
Zoologist Jim Thomas said: “We are privileged to be permitted to live and work in PNG particularly in Lumi.” He added: “The Torricelli Mountain Ranges should act as the model for other conservation areas in PNG. It is our hope that this project is replicated in other areas of PNG so as to increase the number of protected areas in the country.”
UNDP has supported the work of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance in partnership with the Conservation Environment Protection Authority.
Note to Media
High quality images of the project site can be obtain here.
A 10 minute movie trailer is available in Youtube.Contact information
Melissa Warbua, Communications Associate, Community-based Forest and Coastal Conservation and Resource Management Project, +675 7640 7148, firstname.lastname@example.org